Battlefield acupuncture is used by the military for rapid pain relief. This is one of the therapies I have introduced into my practice. Battlefield acupuncture was developed from a traditional therapy called auricular acupuncture. Col. Dr Richard Niemtzow named it battlefield acupuncture because it could be used on the battlefield when standardised western medications where not advisable or unavailable. Battlefield acupuncture has specific point combinations that are found to be effective for pain relief and addictions. Tiny gold semi-permanent needles are inserted in to specific points in the ear which stimulate the release of neurotransmitters.
If you are suffering with pain or addiction then this could be the therapy for you.
Tiny gold ASP needle and applicator.
It’s that time of year again when nature provides us with its fruits to harvest, so I ventured out with a friend and collected some rose hips to make a health providing tonic.
Rose hips are the fruit of the rose and are a great source of antioxidants. Traditionally rose hips where used medicinally for treating and preventing colds. There is also current scientific research into the benefits of it reducing inflammation and preventing damage to the human joints. Wild rose hips are particularly rich in vitamin C, contain 426mg per 100g. It also contains other valuable nutrients such as vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium and magnesium.
Jujube known also as Chinese red date has been cultivated for over 4000years. Jujube is used in Chinese medicine for its tonifying, sweet and warming effects. It is great for nourishing your spleen and stomach qi, helping with your digestion and metabolism. It calms the spirit and nourishes the blood. So is great for building your blood if you’re deficient. It’s also used as a natural sedative and acts as a calmative for the entire nervous system which is why its prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep problems.
Jujube is high in vitamin C which is great for your skin and hair and it helps heal wounds and injuries quicker. Potassium is good for keeping your blood pressure at healthy levels and jujube contains 250mg per 100g. Iron, manganese, copper, niacin, and vitamin B6 are also found in the fruit. It also contains cyclic adenosine monophosphate .This is one of the essential compounds which is used to create energy in cells; in Chinese medicine jujube is known for building yang qi hence its tonifying effects. Another bonus is that cyclic adenosine monophosphate has shown to be a tumour suppressor and provides anti-allergic effects.
1kg rose hips
200g Jujube (red dates)
you can always add ginger to spice it up a little or star anise for depth of flavour.
Weigh ingredients, and then remove the stones from the red dates. Put the rose hips into a saucepan and bring to boil, take off the heat, do not boil as it will reduce the antioxidant properties. Leave to sit in water for 15 mins. Bring back to boil and then whizz up the rose hips. Take off the boil and leave to sit for 15 mins. Sieve or use a muslin to strain the rose hips. Place the seeds of the rose hips and left-over pulp back into pan and cover with water until it just covers the pulp, bring back to boil and then strain. Add to the thicker first batch of juice. Throw in your jujube and return the pan to boil. Wizz up the dates in the boiled juice, leave to cool for five mins and then add your honey. Cool and bottle it in a sterile container. There you have your super health boosting tonic! You can use it like a cordial by mixing it with sparkling water/water or even add hot water and drink it warm or take it undiluted as a shot 😊
Autumn is the time of year to take action and boost the lungs and the large intestine’s qi. It is easier to strengthen the organs at this time of year because the organ qi is aligned with the season’s element. Each organ in Chinese medicine is related to an element, these elements are fire, earth, metal, wood and water.
Our lungs distribute Wei Qi, this is our defensive layer which protects us from harmful pathogens which may lead to disease. It is similar to what western medicine calls our immune system. If our lung qi is weak then our defensive layer is also weak which can allow pathogens to enter through our pores. Prevention is key, so strengthening your wei qi before the winter season kicks in will help ward of the colds and flus.
The lungs and the large intestine are termed paired organs, the lungs are Yin and the large intestine is Yang. Both these organs work together closely influencing each other and play a role in the digestion and metabolism of the body.
The lungs are closely related to the function of the skin, as we also breathe and expel toxins through the pores. When our lung qi is deficient and/or our large intestine qi is in excess we are prone to developing skin conditions and allergies.
The health of the skin reflects the strength of the lungs and large intestine qi. When healthy, your skin should be glowing, fresh looking, smooth to touch and has a certain quality of elasticity.
Some of the lung and large intestine symptoms
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty in breathing
- Chest fullness and distension
- Hoarse or a weak voice
- High blood pressure
- Skin conditions
The large intestine
The large intestines function is to separate the pure from the impure, and eliminate waste. Psychologically and physically it is related to sorting out what is useful or un-useful, the rights and wrongs. When our large intestine qi isn’t flowing well we develop digestive disorders such as constipation and diarrhoea. The mind seems full, confused and has difficulties in letting go of attachments. In Chinese medicine the practitioner will ask about your bowel movements, colour, shape and texture this is all to help with diagnosis. Our waste tells us a lot about our state of well-being.
The psyche of the lungs and large intestine
In Chinese medicine our consciousness has five main parts, the Po, Zhi, Hun, Shen, and the Yi. These make up our behavioural and mental processes, our psychology. The Po is related to our lungs, and of the five spirits it is Yin in nature. The Po our spirit of the lungs is responsible for our attachments. The organs are also related to different emotions, the lungs are related to the emotion of sadness, melancholy, a low mood of doom and gloom. Out of the five elements its element is that of metal. People who are born with a higher constitution of metal tend to be perfectionists, and hold high values. They are always seeking perfection, but perfection can never be found, this leads to disappointment, a low mood, a mourning of loss for what it can’t grasp.
How can we nourish our lungs and large intestine?
Fresh air, get out in to nature, be amongst the trees and next to the sea. Breathe deeply instead of taking shallow breaths, this can also help release tension and bring about relaxation. Live with the rhythm of nature. Eating produce which grows at that time of year can help keep you tip top.
Introduce spicy pungent foods to warm the body as the climate gets cooler, drinking warm drinks such as ginger tea is also beneficial. Slow cooked foods, such as roasted vegetables or slow cooked stews and soups are very warming and nourishing for the body. Try to eat less raw foods such as salads and smoothies during this time of year.
Autumn is a season of storage and loss. The beginnings that started in the spring are now coming to an end. Just like the leaves falling from the trees we let go, and use it to fertilise and grow. Just don’t get stuck in the melancholy of loss!
Painting credited to Saatchi Art Artist Elena Kraft, “Autumn Melancholy”.
During the cold winter months, recuperation and nurturing of our qi (energy) deep within begins. As the months go by the energy of winter, which is the water element, begins its transition in to the wood element of spring. Like a well the storage of qi, slowly begins trickling upwards and outwards, eventually overflowing and becoming expansive enough to break free and become a flowing spring, giving birth to life. This surge of energy bursts out bringing colour to our lives, fresh green buds appear along with bouncing lambs, daffodils, snowdrops, blue bells and freshly cut grass which fills the air with spring time fragrances. The wood energy of spring brings and explosive change; life force is at its strongest. This creative energy within us begins to stir, bringing optimism, hope, new ideas, plans and an unstoppable desire to move forward. This seasonal energy gives us the surging potential to break free from the old and move into the new.
The Wood element is connected to our liver qi and gallbladder qi. When in balance we grow quickly, overcome difficulties with ease, we make the right choices which put us on the right path. We flow naturally with our destiny (ming) and we ascend to heaven, upwards, like bamboo. We grow fast, are flexible, strong, and sway with the wind, life seems to flow effortlessly.
The liver is in control of the free flowing and spreading of qi, and when this flow is stagnated we become out of balance, discontented, frustrated and become irritable. When out of balance life seems to be a struggle as the wood energy is either excess or deficient. We become rigid, tense, inflexible, irritable, hot headed, and eventually we snap, or conversely, we lack drive, energy, become timid, feel anxious, repress anger and cannot deal with anger appropriately. The gallbladder is the decision maker, it utilizes the liver’s vision and planning and makes a judgment, deciding which decisions to bring into fruition. When out of balance the gallbladder finds it difficult to make wise decisions, making life difficult and stunting growth.
Wood (Liver and Gallbladder) Imbalances
- Muscle tension
- Prone to tendon and ligament injuries
- Sciatic pain
- Visual disturbances
- High blood pressure
- Overly assertive
- Outbursts of anger
- PMS, Menstrual irregularities, fibroids
- Digestive issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Cohn’s, acid reflux, ulcers
Horary Acupuncture Points for the Seasonal Treatment of Spring
Using the wood element points found on the gall bladder and liver channels we can help the mind, body and spirits transition from winter to spring, synchronising with the Dao (the flow of life).
LIVER 1 Dadun; Great Esteem; Jing-well; Wood Point; Entry Point; Horary 1am-3am/Spring
LIV 1 is a jing well point, it is here that the qi begins to bubble upward and flow
outwardly towards the trunk of the body. Dadun can be translated from Chinese to English in to meaning ‘Great Esteem’, ‘Great Clarity’, ‘Great Honesty’ or ‘Big Heap/Mound’. The effects of this point certainly do bring about a great surge of confidence to leap forward with direction, boldness, strength, optimism and flexibility into a new beginning. Helping the patient to leave behind past hurt, resentments, and old thoughts that have hindered them from moving forwards and reaching their potential goals.
Gall Bladder 41 Zulingqi; Foot Above Tears; Shu-Stream; Wood Point; Exit Point; Horary 11-1am/Spring
GB 41 has the ability to tonify its corresponding yin organ, the Liver, it is here that the qi pours down the channel. This point has the ability to remove the restraints of
old negative judgments based on past regrets, resentments, hurts and failures which has led to fearing the unknown, with the inability to move forward with a positive outlook. An explosion of energy will release the suppressed emotions which have prevented the person moving forward, giving courage to jump for
ward and begin with a fresh start.
Acupuncture and exercise are great ways to move stagnant qi, also staying hydrated by drinking 2 liters of water daily will help the liver’s process in detoxifying the body.
We can sense a change coming, it’s not quite autumn but the summer’s warmth and light are dwindling. The leaves are beginning to change colour from green to warm hues, the grains are nearly ready to be harvested, and there is a sweet ripening fragrance in the air. In Chinese medicine, these colours, smells and nourishing qualities are also associated with the spleen. Late summer is the season of the Earth element; the spleen.
In Western medicine the spleen is thought of as an organ which helps the immune system by producing lymphocytes (white blood cells) and helps to remove old blood cells. However in Traditional Chinese Medicine the spleen’s qi main functions are different. It is a yin organ, and its main function is transforming and transporting food qi (the way we synthesize and utilise our food). Its paired yang organ is the stomach. Digestive issues are related to the spleen and stomach.
We have all felt butterflies in our stomach when we are worried. Psychologically the emotion of worry is also related to the spleen, along with overthinking. Both these emotional qualities, when in excess, damage the function of the spleen and can affect you physiologically by slowing down metabolism, resulting in difficulty in digesting food, lethargy etc. The spleen is also responsible for holding blood within the vessels. Spleen qi deficiency is often the cause of bruising easily, having difficulties with the blood not clotting, nose bleeds or blood in the stools. The spleen is also responsible for strengthening our muscles, if it is weak we become tired and weak.
We live in an environment which is constantly bombarding us with information, from televisions, computers, phones, work, and personal worries. We usually multitask all of this information which is draining to our spleen.
There are many ways to support the functionality of the spleen. This is particularly important as this time of year as we need a healthy immune system ready for winter, and plenty of energy to get through the cold, dark, wet winter months.
Top Tips For Keeping Your Spleen Tip Top
Avoid Ice In Drinks And Cold Or Frozen Foods
The spleen and stomach are responsible for digestion. When you eat cold foods in excess, such as ice cream, food straight from the fridge, and certain raw/ uncooked foods, the spleen has to generate extra energy (qi) to warm the food prior to being able to metabolise it, which can lead to spleen qi deficiency, which then can cause ‘damp’ in the body leading to weight gain and further digestive issues.
Eat Nourishing Foods
Skipping meals weakens your spleen qi. Eating at regular times is beneficial for your digestive system. There are five flavors in traditional Chinese medicine. The spleen is associated with the sweet taste, liver with the sour, heart with bitter, lungs with pungent, and kidneys with the salty. Foods which are sweet in nature nourish the spleen, some of these sweet food types include: Oats, Whole grain rice, Potatoes, Barley, Millet, Spelt, Corn, Sweet Potatoes, Yams, Squash, Carrots, Mushrooms, Cherries, Grapes, Figs, Dates, Tofu, Black Beans, Broad Beans, Yellow Lentils, Beef, Chicken, Lamb, Rabbit, Goose, Duck, Pheasant, Eel, Mackerel, Herrings, Tuna, Lobster, Mussels, Shrimp, Pine nuts, Walnuts, Chestnuts, Pistachios, Butter, Goats Milk/Yogurt, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Dill Seeds, Fennel Seeds, Garlic, Ginseng, Licorice, Royal Jelly.
Roasted foods along with root vegetables have warming properties and are also very nourishing for the body especially at this time of year.
Foods That The Spleen Dislikes
There’s nothing wrong with being a little naughty now and again but eating these foods in excess, negatively impacts your spleen. Dairy, Wheat, Cold Drinks, Deep Fried Foods, Fruit Juice, Refined Foods, Processed Foods, Sugar and Sugar Substitutes, Coffee, Alcohol, Peanuts, Bananas, Avocados.
It’s important not to rush meals, and to chew your food thoroughly, this helps to generate enzymes which break down the food, helping your spleen and stomach digest food easier.
Be aware of your actions and do one thing at a time. Multitasking is a great skill, but when you are being bombarded with stimuli whilst eating, it weakens your spleen qi. When you eat watching television, studying or catching up on work, this is slowing down your digestive process. Being more mindful of your food can also give you a deep appreciation for the food you have and you begin to enjoy it more. Being fully aware of your food and how nourishing it is for your body has a positive effect.
Take time out and get away from stressful multitasking situations which are draining on your spleen. Go for a walk, leave your phone at home, sit quietly, meditate, just half an hour a day will make a huge difference to your life, and in the way you feel. You will feel calmer, more at peace, and your spleen will love you for it.
Some of the Signs Associated with Spleen Qi Deficiency
- Low appetite
- Bloating after eating
- Stomach Pain
- Diabetes and Hypoglycaemia
- Undigested food in the stool
- Weak limbs
- Difficulty waking in the morning
- Sallow complexion
- Loose Stools
- Easily Bruises
- Nose Bleeds
- Prolapsed Organs (hemorrhoids, uterus etc.)
- Varicose Veins
- Excessive Worrying
- Obsessive behavior
Some signs of a Deficient Spleen Qi leading to Internal Damp
- Stuffiness of chest and upper region of abdomen
- Feeling of heaviness in the head
- Cold limbs
- Weight Gain
Giving yourself time for reflection can help brake negative habits. Being still in the present moment can give you new insights and can be just as important as being active. When we seek we cannot find. Just because we pause does not mean we are not moving forward, dont be afraid to pause!
How many treatments of acupuncture do I need?
This question is posed to me often, and understandably, we all want to know how long it will take before we get back to health. Many factors come into play, how many times will I need to come, how often and what is the cost?
The answers can be pretty vague because everyone is unique and individual. Some people heal quicker than others, and often the more chronic the condition, the longer it will take. Prevention is key! When you start to feel unwell, don’t ignore it, as it won’t always get better and chances are your condition will get worse if you don’t face the problem. Typically, in Chinese hospitals, patients are treated two to five times a week, and acupuncture can be scheduled as often as twice a day, or as little as once a month. From my experience acute conditions can usually be treated within 2-3 acupuncture treatments; however, chronic conditions which are present for over six weeks can take longer to fix. This is when a course of treatments is offered, and usually for a lower, more affordable price. I usually suggest six treatments to begin with and depending on the patient’s condition. I usually administer treatments up to twice a week for the first week. Once the symptoms begin to clear, and depending on the body’s needs, weekly treatments are then prescribed. This seems to get great results. People often witness impressive results after one treatment, which is great, but it doesn’t mean that the issue is fixed. It is a process and the body needs time to re adjust, to let healing take place for lasting results. Once we are in the process of healing, then the root cause can be treated. The root of any diseases is deep rooted and this can take time. It’s not a quick fix, but an investment in your health, and getting you back to feeling yourself again. It is very likely that you will continue to come for acupuncture treatments even after you are back to health, as acupuncture is a preventive medicine.
And what is meant by preventative? Well acupuncture balances you mind, body and soul, it gets everything running smoothly. Just like going to a garage for a service, we need things topped up, cleaned out and adjusted. So don’t be surprised if you feel as if you need a top up when your body isn’t running as efficiently as it could be. I usually suggest patients come back when the seasons change, as people often can sense uncertainty and feel unsettled during these times. Traditional Chinese medicine theory includes the ideology that the five seasons are related to our organs and have specific elements: winter which is associated with the kidneys (water element), spring with the liver (wood element), summer the heart (fire element), late summer is the spleen (earth element), and autumn the lungs (metal element). Strangely enough and as hippy dippy out there as it sounds, acupuncture has very powerful points associated with these five seasons, which nourish the qi relating to the organs and elements, helping your body to adjust easily during seasonal transition. Because just like the plants and wildlife change throughout the year, we do also; and when we flow with this life force, that is when we sparkle and avoid ill health. Dao to Health and Happiness.
Many of us don’t stop! Always on the go, work, work, work, with little time for ourselves to relax. This fast paced life can leave us stressed with symptoms including: being run down, tense, agitated, tired, and anxious. There are many ways in which we can de-stress, by finding time to do things like exercise, meditate, walking, listening to music, or relax at a spa; but when these are not enough, some of us turn to alcohol, drugs and medications to help ease the symptoms. However they come with side effects which are detrimental to our health.
Why chose acupuncture? Why not chose acupuncture? It is a very powerful therapy and can reduce the effects of stress mentally and physically with no bad side effects, win win win! Acupuncture works by regulating qi, it relaxes the mind and body, and restores the bodies’ balance naturally.
What is qi? Qi (pronounced chi) is information, a catalyst of energy which travels along channels (pathways) within the body. If we liken qi to neurotransmitters, we can see how acupuncture works by regulating the functioning of our bodies. So when there is and excess or deficiency of something relating to the functioning of our bodies, acupuncture points are stimulated by the practitioner, which signals to the body to regulate the excess or deficiency. The connection given here between acupuncture and these neurotransmitters makes it easier to explain how acupuncture works. Although acupuncture is known to regulate neuropeptides, it isn’t the only reason why and how acupuncture is so effective.
During times of stress the body releases excess amounts of adrenaline (epinephrine) and cortisol (glucocorticoids). Scientists have proven that when we are stressed, we release high levels of cortisol which is detrimental to the body and the way it functions; eventually leading to disease. Acupuncture has been clinically proven to reduce cortisol levels during chronic stress. Research has also shown that acupuncture decreases the levels of protein neuropeptide Y (NPY) which is released by the sympathetic nervous system, which is activated during the ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ modes. It is well documented that acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins (feel good hormone), dopamine (pain relieving hormone) and melatonin (regulates sleep and wakefulness). The general sense of well-being following an acupuncture treatment can be attributed to the increased levels of these feel good neuropeptides.